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Léon: The Professional (1994)

Léon (original title)
Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin's trade.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Willi One Blood ...
1st Stansfield Man (as Willie One Blood)
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Keith A. Glascoe ...
Randolph Scott ...
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Carl J. Matusovich ...
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Lucius Wyatt Cherokee ...
Tonto (as Lucius Wyatt 'Cherokee')
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Storyline

After her father, mother, older sister and little brother are killed by her father's employers, the 12-year-old daughter of an abject drug dealer is forced to take refuge in the apartment of a professional hitman who at her request teaches her the methods of his job so she can take her revenge on the corrupt DEA agent who ruined her life by killing her beloved brother. Written by J. S. Golden

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

If you want the job done right, hire a professional. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for scenes of strong graphic violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

18 November 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Léon: The Professional  »

Box Office

Budget:

FRF 115,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,306,558 (USA) (20 November 1994)

Gross:

$19,501,238 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (uncut) | (International)

Sound Mix:

| (8 channels)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is Natalie Portman's motion picture debut. She was 11 when she was cast. See more »

Goofs

The bathroom mirror disappears and reappears during Mathilda's impressions. It is on the wall for Madonna, off the wall for Marilyn Monroe, back on the wall for Charles Chaplin, and off again for Gene Kelly. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Tony: Allora, come stai, Leone?
Léon: Bene.
[Tony puts out his cigarette in an ashtray]
Tony: OK. OK. Let's talk business.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Under the "SPECIAL THANKS" heading you will find: Chevalier KAMEN (Prince of the Mash Potatoes) Byblos Bill (King of Saint Tropez) Princess Trudy (Queen of Hearts) See more »

Connections

Featured in Jean Reno: The Road to 'Léon' (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

The Experience of Love
Written by Éric Serra
Performed by Éric Serra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A thrilling crime film, in deep touch and care with the characters- Besson and Portman's best work to date
20 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I sensed that Luc Besson (director of The Fifth Element and La Femme Nikita) was, like Tarantino and many, many others before him, borrowed elements from various films and genres to create their own voice in the film. With Leon, I sensed him alluding to the crime films of France (i.e. Melville), Hong-Kong (i.e. Woo), and America (i.e. Scorsese), and making it into his own special brand for the story and characters. That his style visually is as compelling helps a great deal. The international version (which is the one I saw) is a little grittier, and more suggestive, than the version most American audiences saw in 1994 and on cable. But it is also a must-see if you are planning to see the film. It's not a long movie, though it gives a good many details in its story.

Jean Reno has his star-making turn (at least for what he's worth) in Leon- he's ruthless contract killer who will kill just about anyone for the right price. He lives out of an apartment by himself, trying his best to ignore his noisy neighbors. One of the daughters is Mathilda (Natalie Portman, also a major breakthrough performance), abused by her whole family to no end. When a corrupt cop (Gary Oldman, one of the key villain performances of his career along with Dracula and Drexl in True Romance) goes and kills off her family while she's away, she has no one else to turn to besides the reclusive killer. She knows what he does, and she wants in. The rest of the film is about their relationship, as it unfolds professionally and emotionally, leading to a tremendous, bloody climax.

One thing that struck me most about Leon is the fact that the film was more disturbing than I expected. The idea of a killer getting a pupil in a young teenage girl is unusual enough, but the way it unfolds I felt so much for her plight got to me at times. this doesn't make Leon a tear-jerker (maybe for some, I'm not sure), but because of Portman's dead-on portrayal, it makes the story work somehow, and is in a way as fantastical as it is naturalistic. There are also a few scenes that stuck out as being little masterpieces of all the elements coming together. The first is a brief scene, and crucial to showing the character of Leon early on- he takes a break after his contract, and sees a movie, a musical with Gene Kelly. He's the only one in the theater, and he is completely in the grasp of what he sees on the screen. It's the perfect touch of humanity and shows his only escape is into complete fantasy.

The second is when Leon and Mathilda are in a restaurant, after she has just gone through a day of training (there's a hilarious montage that follows this scene). Mathilda is getting drunk off of champagne, rambling with words she may or may not mean. Suddenly, she starts laughing, and she laughs more, and harder. People in the restaurant look at her like she's nuts. Leon is, of course, embarrassed. However, I thought this was just the right touch to this scene, where the kind of father-daughter relationship going on between Leon and Mathilda is revealed. It's not exactly funny, not even really cringe worthy. It just is. The third scene is when Mathilda decides to pay a visit to the man who murdered her family. She follows the man into the bathroom, and waits. Suddenly, he (Oldman) appears out from behind a door. The language used, the tenseness of the two off of one another, it's simply the most terrifying scene in the picture (aside from the first violent turning point).

So, basically, when Leon finished, I think I realized that my reaction was this: if I had seen this film when I was younger, be it in high school or even middle school, I would've responded to it even more strongly than I do now. There's something very visceral about the nature of violence and killing, as well as the mentor/pupil relationship, that Besson really gets down pat. While some of the situations have the chance of slipping into clichés, it doesn't happen very often. Leon: The Professional, is hard-hitting when it has to be, soft and funny when it can, and does stay with the viewer a few days after it's over.


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